LMH already follows practices required by new law
By Linda Gall, Lawrence Memorial Hospital
A new law that that goes into effect July 1 should have little effect on Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
The Kansas Lay Caregiver Act requires hospitals to provide each patient or legal guardian the opportunity to designate a caregiver following a patient’s admission to the hospital. The patient, who is not required to designate a caregiver, also can change his or her designation before leaving the hospital.
If a patient designates a caregiver, the hospital must notify the caregiver about the patient’s discharge or transfer to another licensed facility as soon as practicable. If the hospital can’t contact the caregiver, that should not interfere with the medical care or appropriate discharge provided to the patient.
Before discharge of a patient, the hospital is required to attempt to consult with the caregiver to prepare that person to provide post-hospital care. The consultation will include instructions and education on aftercare.
While the new law focuses on the importance of caregivers being informed about an upcoming dismissal and being prepared to provide care, it does not give caregivers any authority to make healthcare decisions on behalf of patients.
The Kansas Lay Caregiver law may be new, but Lawrence Memorial Hospital has been following the model of the caregiver act for years. On admission to the hospital, patients are given the opportunity to designate six contacts: a person to notify about admission, a physician to notify about admission, a contact person/patient representative, a patient support person, a home caregiver and a person who will provide transportation at discharge. Some of these contacts may be the same person. The LMH staff has access to these contacts in the medical record, and attempts to keep the caregiver and support person informed of plans of care – based on the patient’s wishes.
At LMH, social workers are instrumental in discharge planning, and they include the caregiver/support person when discussing options and choices for services needed after a patient leaves LMH. The social workers keep the caregiver/support person informed of any changes in discharge plans, and inform them before patient transfers to other facilities.
Nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy and respiratory therapy staff also include caregivers/support persons when reviewing the discharge instructions, home medications and therapies. They know the importance of the patient and caregiver understanding the instructions.
LMH care navigators make follow-up phone calls within 72 hours after discharge for higher-risk patients. A care navigator, who is a registered nurse, contacts the patient or caregiver and reviews the discharge instructions. Navigators also can answer questions and assist with arranging referrals to additional community resources.
If patients have a planned hip or knee replacement surgery, they can bring their caregiver with them to the “Joint Class” at LMH. This class teaches what to expect after surgery and what is needed after leaving the hospital. If you or someone you are caring for has a planned procedure, please visit www.lmh.org/your_surgery_experience for additional information and a hospital discharge checklist that focuses on what to expect and how to plan for care after hospitalization.
Patients have a more successful transition to home and recovery if they are well-informed and have a caregiver who is able to assist them. LMH is your partner for lifelong health, and we are here to assist you and your caregiver in that recovery. If you need more information about resources LMH offers as patients leave the hospital, please contact the hospital’s Care Coordination Office, 785-505-6149.
Linda Gall is senior director of care coordination at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.